Regarding our “Black Book” contract, for the first time ever, as a result of the 2008 market crash, our Motion Picture Industry was projected to suffer a huge deficit of 350 million dollars through 2015. If we included the 13th and 14th check for our Retirees who retired prior to 2009, it will be 425 million. It definitely will be our top priority in our negotiations. This has never happened before. Our dilemma is how to pay this deficit. We participatedin the IATSE negotiations in the Health and Pension negotiations, where the Producers proposed to pay over $240 million of the deficit up front. This unity was unprecedented. We still had a shortfall of over $200 million to deal with. 30.5¢ was taken from the IAP and left 6% in tact. We also had a choice of taking 1% in wages or paying a premium. The premium was limited to $0 for individuals; $25 for individuals plus one; $50 for individuals plus family; and $0 for retirees and families. There was no choice because the wage reduction with no premium would cost significantly more than going along with the premiums and no wage reduction. I have been asked about the future and what kind of increases in the premiums we can expect. While I have no crystal ball, I commit to keeping these premiums at a minimum if we agree.

The IATSE negotiations have been completed and they are starting their ratification push (checkout the Daily Variety dated 4/21/2012).

In negotiations, the IATSE have always started before us, and if both parties (IATSE & management) agree, their recommendation on the PH&W will go to the Fund’s Directors for a vote.

If we didn’t agree on the solution to the deficit, it wouldn’t leave us with much choice. We either accept it or we strike.

It would force us to take extreme measures when it is our turn in negotiations. The last time that we didn’t accept their agreement was 9 years ago when the former leadership of the IATSE agreed to take a 23% weekly cut in pay for television contingent on Local 399 agreeing too. I said, “Bullshit!” Immediately with the support of our General President and the entire Teamster Nation, the Producers withdrew the proposal. Thus, we helped the IATSE members too. I surely hope that they didn’t forget that because today some of them were disappointed in our initial reluctance to accept the premiums that was agreed to. While we had an alternate plan, the premiums were still a better and a cheaper option. If ratified by the IATSE membership, the AMPTP & IATSE Directors of the Health Fund will implement the Premiums.

The only other option left is to strike, but it will be foolish to strike on a contract on a total package that has wage increases and no takeaways even when you include the premiums. The premiums are $0 for a participant (which are 41% of the members), $25 a month for participant plus 1 (which are 29.5% of the members), and $50 a month for the participant and the entire family irrespective of the numbers (which are another 29.5%). Retirees are $0 including their families. Everything else remains the same. It is still the best plan in Hollywood, and one of the best in the Country. Facing the huge deficit of $425 million dollars, Matt Loeb and Mike Miller had the members’ interest at heart, and we support them. We will never condemn the men in the arena.

My biggest fear on the premiums is that once the Studios get their foot in the door, what is next?

We will continue with our “Black Book” negotiations in late June. The IATSE have concluded.